As a parent of a child in the Junior Infants stage of Primary School, you will be familiar with the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) programme which introduces young learners to the subjects of science, history and geography. You may be wondering how you can encourage your child to follow their natural curiosity of the world around them through different activities to support their engagement with the national curriculum.
This guide will highlight some ways you can support your Junior Infant develop their key SESE skills at home, factors to consider when looking for SESE activity books, and some excellent activity books available now.
Supporting your Junior Infant with their SESE development
You may already be helping your child develop key SESE skills just by encouraging them to pursue things that interest them, such as animals or hearing stories about past events from close family members. There are a number of ways you can support your Junior Infant with their SESE learning even further, such as:
One of the best ways you can encourage your child to engage with their SESE curriculum is by helping them foster a curiosity about the world through asking lots of questions. Even when you don’t know the answer yourself, you are demonstrating that learning is an ongoing process because the world continues to change and there are always new things to discover.
Using everyday opportunities
There are so many opportunities for learning in everyday activities, from talking to elderly relatives about what they did for work, going on nature walks to find local landmarks, or even just monitoring plants and wildlife in the garden at home. Be aware of what your child is currently learning about in their SESE lessons, and try to integrate those topics into your play or downtime.
One of the key aims of the SESE curriculum is to develop and explore the connections between the three core subjects. If they are learning about environmental awareness, ask them how that affects the oceans or how weather conditions have changed over time, to introduce a historical perspective.
Experimenting at home
An effective way of encouraging young learners to engage in science is to demonstrate how experimenting can be fun and doesn't have to be restricted to a lesson in school. If your child is a hands-on learner, look for resources that include recommendations for independent activities or experiments you can do together. Learn about heating and cooling by demonstrating how things can melt or freeze, bake different foods to test how ingredients such as yeast react, or let your child take the lead and decide what they want to try and test.
Finding the right SESE activity book for your child
When finding a SESE activity book for your Junior Infant, one of the first conditions will be the SESE Primary Curriculum and the instructions this provides. Activity books should focus on developing skills in history, geography and science by engaging with the content topics outlined in the curriculum. For example, environmental awareness and care is integral to children’s growing geographical skills as they progress through Primary School, and activity books should explore the relationship between nature and human life in Ireland and the world as a whole.
Find a book where your child can practise reflecting on their own learning with plenty of space to write, draw and explore. You should also look for books that combine teacher-led instruction with self-directed activities to encourage independent learning and build confidence in early years.
CJ Fallon SESE activity books
The Small World SESE programme from CJ Fallon has been developed by subject experts and aims to develop children’s understanding and appreciation of the world around them as they progress through Primary School (from Junior Infants to Second Class). The programme is fully aligned with the new SESE Primary Curriculum and the NCCA guidelines, and is also available in Gaeilge.
Each book in these revised editions of What a Wonderful World includes a range of activities and exercises presented in an engaging and colourful way. The integrated approach to teaching the SESE subjects is designed to help your child understand how past events have shaped the scientific and geographical world around them today so that they build confidence in questioning and experimenting. Also available in Gaeilge.
Folens SESE activity books
The Explorers pupil book from Folens aims to help your child develop the necessary skill set to become a confident historian, geographer and scientist by actively engaging with the world around them. The book provides guided practice and space for children to record what they have learned.
Folens’ Unlocking series is designed to promote learning through discovery. Unlocking SESE uses a thematic integration of the subjects through activities, oral language and discussion, delivered by a blend of print and digital resources to suit modern learning and teaching methods.
Other SESE activity books
The Explore With Me programme balances the three SESE subjects to encourage children to explore and investigate their local environment and the world in general. It is organised into 10 themes at each class level, with one theme covered per month.
Window on the World Activity Book A is an SESE book designed specifically for Junior Infants. It features engaging drawings to help develop fine motor skills and grading for the progression of oral language, reading and writing.
Switch on Science has been created by Irish teachers with the needs of Irish schools in mind. It aims to introduce children to basic scientific and environmental concepts as well as develop key skills in observation, prediction, analysis and discussion.